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National Lampoon’s Vacation (4K UHD Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

An ad exec becomes obsessed with driving his family across country to California amusement park Wally World, but their road trip devolves into chaos along the way.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

National Lampoon’s Vacation is the first entry in the comedy franchise that would see a few sequels and a reboot/sequel in 2015. Chevy Chase plays ad exec Clark Griswold who plans a road trip with his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) and two kids Rusty (Anthony Michael Hall) and Audrey (Dana Barron) across the country to the California amusement park Wally World. Before the trip starts things begin to go badly when Clark goes to pick up his new car from the dealership and they not only bring him the wrong model but crush his old car. The trip across country from Chicago to California devolves into a series of catastrophes from car accidents to untimely deaths and lost cash.

Directed by Harold Ramis and written by John Hughes, Vacation is a trip through a specific form of Americana that gives little let-up on the slapstick and unexpectedly dark humor. Chase gives a solid performance that is arguably one of his best after leaving SNL, and the cinematography of the American landscape as seen from the highways presents a very specific sort of tonality that only a road movie can capture.

By today’s standards, Vacation would likely never get the green light due to its oddly adult, risqué, and stereotypical overtones, but it works as a time capsule back to 1983. Christie Brinkley also appears as a beautiful woman in a red Ferrari who distracts Clark during his monotonous road trip.

  • Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Anthony Michael Hall, and Dana Barron in National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)
  • Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Anthony Michael Hall, and Dana Barron in National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)
  • Chevy Chase and James Keach in National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)
  • Chevy Chase and Anthony Michael Hall in National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)
  • Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Anthony Michael Hall, and Dana Barron in National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)
  • Chevy Chase, Anthony Michael Hall, Dana Barron, and Imogene Coca in National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)
  • National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)
  • National Lampoon's Vacation 4K Ultra HD + Digital (Warner Bros.)
  • National Lampoon's Vacation 4K Ultra HD + Digital (Warner Bros.)

The Video

Warner Bros. does not provide any information on the restoration for Vacation, but obviously great love and attention has gone into it. The film arrives in a 1.85:1 HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) HDR10 encodement. There is no visible source damage, but the image is crisp and organic, with a good layer of fine grain. Detail is sharp, but there are some inherent shots, mostly distance and motion shots of locations that are soft and heavily grained. These natural shots aside, the film and its HDR10 color coding really shine. The colors, such as the cerulean blue of the motel pool where Chevy Chase and Christie Brinkley have a skinny dip, are vibrant. The specular highlights ‘pop’ nicely in light reflections and lights.

The Audio

Vacation hits 4K Ultra HD with its original monaural mix in a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track. The sound is clear, punchy, and free from noise or clipping.

The Supplements

Warner only includes a Movies Anywhere digital code and an audio commentary with this release.

  • Commentary by Harold Ramis, Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, Anthony Michael Hall, Dana Barron, and Matty Simmons

The Final Assessment

The comedy classic National Lampoon’s Vacation is as funny as ever, political incorrectness aside, and looks better than ever in this new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release from Warner Bros.


National Lampoon’s Vacation is out on 4K Ultra HD + Digital June 27, 2023, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.


  • Rating Certificate: R
  • Studios & Distributors: National Lampoon | Warner Bros. | Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
  • Director: Harold Ramis
  • Written By: John Hughes
  • Run Time: 98 Mins.
  • Street Date: 27 June 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: HDR10
  • HDR10 Metadata:
    • MaxLL: 899 nits
    • MaxFALL: 154 nits
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo
  • Secondary Audio: French DD 2.0 Mono | Spanish DD 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English SDH | French | Spanish
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An ad exec becomes obsessed with driving his family across country to California amusement park Wally World, but their road trip devolves into chaos along the way.National Lampoon's Vacation (4K UHD Review)